Chris Harmse Hammer
Hammer throwers Chris Harmse (South Africa), Katalin Divos (Hungary) and Lorraine Shaw (Britain), were joined by discus thrower Frantz Kruger (South Africa) in qualifying for the Sydney Olympics at the ABSA track and field meeting in Stellenbosch, South Africa on Friday.
In his first major competition this year, Harmse improved the African record in hammer for the sixth time since March 1998. This time he bettered the continental record from 76.09 metres to 76.28 which is well inside the Olympic qualifier of 75.50. However, he had mixed feelings about his success.
"On one hand, l am happy that l have improved the record and qualified for Sydney. I had been throwing well in training, and it is satisfying to rise to the occasion during competition.
"Unfortunately, l could not throw in front of a big crowd as our event took place before the meeting officially got under way for safety reasons. The throwing cage lacked certain safety specifications. Nonetheless l fully supported the safety measures taken by the competition organisers," said Harmse.
Intense competition between Divos and Shaw culminated in them surpassing the Sydney qualifier of 65.00. For Shaw there was more at stake. Last year during the ABSA series she set the Africa all-comers record in 64.66. This time the Hungarian champion and record who has been training in South Africa for the past month, prevailed over the Briton who has just flown into the country.
Fourth at last year’s World championships in Seville, Divos carried the day with an improved all-comers record of 65.37. She alluded to winning a medal in Sydney.
"Hopefully, I will throw 70 metres this year. l certainly want a better position in Sydney than l achieved in Seville," said Divos.
Shaw can take consolation in surpassing the Sydney qualifier by three centimetres.
"I am satisfied with my performance. I felt tired in my legs from jet lag after arriving in the country yesterday (Thursday). I was surprised at qualifying at my first competition. My technique was bad. I expect to do better in the remaining two competitions," said Shaw.
Although he was runner up to Estonian Alexander Tammert, Kruger qualifies for Sydney with a throw of 63.60, just a couple of centimetres ahead of Alexander Borischevski (Russia).
In the 5000m, Shadack Hoff and Hendrik Ramaala exchanged the lead for most of the way and were rewarded by the Olympics-A qualifier of 13:29.00. Hoff clocked 13.26.88 to Ramaala’s 13:27.39.
They used the competition to test their speed ahead of their marathon races on April 16. Hoff makes his marathon debut in Rotterdam, while Ramaala runs his second marathon in London.
Three other athletes completed the 5000m in less than 14 minutes. On a comeback trail, Whaddon Niewoudt clocked 13:30.91 to take third place in his first 5000m in five years. Richard Mavuso improved his career best from 13:39.20 to 13:38.57, while Aaron Gabonewe was fifth in 13:46.27.
Lwiza John’s aggressive front running was successful as she bettered the Tanzanian women’s 1500m record by more than three seconds. Although she was overtaken two metres to the finish, John bettered her national record by over three seconds to 4:15.25. She set the previous record of 4:18.36 in Cape Town last year.
A resurgent Ronel Thomas won the race in a career best of 4:15.14. She improves on her 4.22.13 winning time in Potchefstroom four days ago. Julia Sakara of Zimbabwe was runner up in 4:15.25.
Consistent performances seem to pay of in the men’s sprints. For the third time in the ABSA series, teenager Paul Gorries won the 200m in 20.89. He was followed by Matthew Quinn (20.94) and Morne Nagel (21.10) and Namibian Marcus van Wyk (21.20).
Marcus la Grange made it two in a row by winning the 400m in 45.45. Last Monday he won the event in Potchefstroom 0.03 seconds faster. Hendriks Mokhanyetsi was runner up in 46.11, ahead of Jopie van Oudtshoorn who clocked 46.79.
Nigerian Nnamdi Anusim won the 100m in 10.34. This was identical to the time he ran four day ago when he was runner up to Quinn. Nagel was second in 10.40, with Lee-Roy Newton third in 10.47
Carlien Cornelissen won the women’s 5000m in a career best of 15:43.18. Her previous best was 16:03.00. Making a comeback to competition after a year-long absence due to injury was Alta Verster who was second in 16:13.78. Cahrne Radameyer was third in 16:24.07.
An exciting programme of relays preceded the well-organised meeting for youngsters between the ages of 10 and 15.
"These relays ensure that the rich athletics culture in Stellenbosch is sustained. We are looking forward to hosting the senior national championships in a fortnight’s time," said race organiser Wilfred Daniels.
Mark Ouma for the IAAF
Leading Results (Note: all athletes are South African except where specified).
1 Nnamdi Anusim (Nigeria) 10.34 2 Morne Nagel 10.40 3 Lee-Roy Newton 10.47
1 Paul Gorries 20.89 2 Matthew Quinn 20.94 3 Morne Nagel 21.10 4 Marcus van Wyk (Namibia) 21.20
1 Marcus la Grange 45.45 2 Hendrik Mokganyetsi 46.11 3 Jopie van Oudtshoorn 46.79
1 Werner Botha 1:47.89 2 Jurgens Kotze 1:48.35 3 Stephen Mwonga (Kenya) 1:48.73 4 Shaun Abrahams 1:48.74
1 Hezekiel Sepeng 3:41.70 2 Fred Cheruiyot (Kenya) 3:42.09 3 Esau Faro 3:42.25 4 Tony Whiteman (Britain) 3:42.44
1 Shadrack Hoff 13:26.88 2 Hendrik Ramaala 13:27.39 3 Whaddon Niewoudt 13:32.51 4 Ricard Mavuso 13:38.57 5 Aaron Gabonewe 13:46.27
1 Jacques Freitag 2.25 2 Malcom Hendrik 2.20 3 Wynand Harmse 2.10
1 Chris Harmse 76.28 (Africa Record) 2 Richard Meiring 62.57 3 Riaan Smit 61.34
1 Alexander Tammert (Estonia) 64.43 2 Frantz Kruger 63.60 3 Alexander Borischevski (Russia) 63.58
1 Wendy Hartman 11.53 2 Dikeledi Moropane 11.62 3 Janice Josephs 11.91
1 Heide Seyerling 51.37 2 Olga Kotlyarova (Russia) 52.03 3 Susanna Holtshausen 52.38 4 Yulia Nosova (Russia) 53.99
1 Ronel Thomas 4:15.14 2 Julia Sakara (Zimbabwe) 4:15.23 3 Lwiza John (Tanzania) 4:15.25 (National record)
1 Carlien Corenelissen 15:43.18 (PB) 2 Alta Verster 16:13.78 3 Charne Radameyer 16:24.07
1 Ria Fourie 5.99 2 Delia Visser 5.92 3 Yolandi du Plessis 5.60
1 Sylma Jordaan 3.50 2 Erika Thornton 3.40 3 Annelie van Wyk 3.40
1 Katalin Divos (Hungary) 65.37 2 Lorraine Shaw (Britain) 65.03 3 Elmarie Knoetzen 56.95 4 Sarah Harrison (Britain) 54.15 5 Marilize Engelbrecht 53.34 6 Zoe Derham (Britain) 50.19